During the past five years, at least 10 companies have relocated some or all of their business to downtown Chicago, including United Airlines, BP, Thomson Reuters and Willis Group Holdings. Now, according to a story in this weekend’s Chicago Tribune, other major employers like Acco Brands, Sara Lee Corp. and Barilla are also considering moving back to the city – and they’re not alone. According to the Tribune, “Commercial real estate experts say the trend of moving downtown, or at least touring the market, became more visible as the amount of available space increased and prices dropped.”
For these companies, choosing to move downtown is about competitiveness. Like the patent lawyer outside Detroit who, unable to attract talented workers to suburban Michigan, called for better transportation options and walkable neighborhoods, business leaders are increasingly moving where talented workers want to live: in areas with homes close to jobs, shops and schools with a range of housing choices and transportation options.